Having conflict in your relationship isn’t necessarily a bad sign. It can show you’re engaging with each other and that you really want to reach agreement. However, it’s essential that you handle this in a healthy way. Observe these nine points and instead of threatening your love, your subjects of conflict can bring you closer.
Consider the following:
- Choose your time and place
Mindfulness has many advantages and applications. Mindfulness in this sense means sitting with your emotions and experiencing how you feel. Never tell yourself you shouldn’t feel something – an emotion just is, like the weather. Embrace all of your feelings, however jumbled and painful.
It might help to write down your feelings, to gain some greater clarity. Don’t be surprised if some of them are contradictory.
This may sound like a strange instruction for handling conflict, but it really is vital if you are to retain your sense of power and conviction. If you’re hating yourself for feeling jealous or angry, or feeling ashamed or guilty you may well lose sight of that all-important self-love.
You do not have to be perfect to love yourself. Realise that we all struggle when it comes to close relationships and you aren’t doing anything wrong because you’re in a state of conflict. It’s just the way things are.
Loving yourself is also essential before you can truly love anyone else. So be kind to yourself, honour your emotions and remember your good points. You deserve to be heard.
Accepting your emotions and caring for yourself doesn’t mean you get carried away with your feelings, screaming and shouting and blurting it all out. Just because you sit with a feeling doesn’t mean you necessarily say it.. Of course your partner needs to know about your feelings, but you need to choose your words.
Try to understand where the emotions have arisen.
- Are they just to do with your partner, or are some of them linked to past experiences?
- What is the central difficulty you are experiencing?
- Are you being reasonable and have you thought about your partner’s viewpoint?
- What do you want to achieve, going forwards?
Again, it can be good to write things down, so you don’t lose the plot in the heat of the moment.
CHOOSE YOUR TIME AND PLACE
The awkward thing about conflict is that it often arises at just the point when it is hardest to deal with! You may be on a visit to your in-laws, preparing for guests or trying to catch a plane. The stress of these situations can naturally trigger an argument, but embarking on one could be damaging.
If possible, refuse to get drawn in. Say quietly that you’re not happy and want to talk about this later. If your partner keeps prodding, do your best to be firm and pleasant. If the issue is an important one between you and it’s still on your mind later, choose a proper time to talk.
BE CLEAR, CALM AND TO THE POINT
When you argue you want to be powerful. This kind of power is ‘power to’ not ‘power over’. It’s not about intimidating, bullying, or being more clever than your other half. It’s about having the courage of your convictions about who you are and where you’re coming from.
Resist feelings such as guilt and shame. Accept they are there but do not let them control you. Do not wheedle or manipulate. If you are angry, don’t be pushed by it into being rude or abusive. Always keep sight of the point you want to get over, and always remain calm, if you can.
Keep it simple. If you’re annoyed that your partner always leaves you to pick the kids up, don’t chuck in moans about who puts out the bins and cleans the cooker for good measure! Those points are for another day.
LET GO OF THE PAST
Things may well have happened in the past that you feel are unfinished and still affect the present. However, unless these past actions and events are strictly relevant, save them for another confrontation.
For instance, if your partner flirted in the past and you still feel hurt and threatened, these difficult feelings may raise their head when you’re arguing about the household bills – but they are not really connected.
It could be that you will need further reassurance from your partner about something that happened in the past, or more clarification. But let the past be the past for practical purposes when you have something to settle now.
LISTEN TO YOUR PARTNER
When you’re all fired up listening can be the hardest task, but give it your best shot. Your dearest may have valid points to make. They may also have doubts, fears and difficulties that you don’t know about.
It’s great to have conviction, but always bear in mind that although your reasoning may be sound you may not have all the facts. Give your partner a chance.
BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
Maybe you do just want to sound off. Sometimes we just need our feelings to be ‘heard’. If that’s the case let your partner know you don’t expect them to do anything, precisely, you just want their understanding.
If you do want changes, try to get your partner to agree that these are a good thing. Arrange how you will assess how things are going.
ALWAYS MAKE IT UP
The old saying about not letting the sun go down on your anger is a good one. Every couple has points of disagreement, every relationship has storms. However, what stays constant is the love you have between you.
Ask yourself what matters most, being right and getting your own way or the love and warmth you share? Sometimes it’s good to compromise and/or let go, because in the wider scheme of things, what matters most? Life is too short and love is too precious to be wasted on resentment, so do yourself a favour and move on.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We have looked at being mindful, loving yourself, analysing the situation, choosing time and place, being clear and calm, letting go of the past, listening, having goals and being prepared to let go. These nine important points will help you greatly if you bear them in mind when approaching an argument. If you put them into practice they will enable you to handle confrontation constructively.
PUBLISHED: 15 August 2018